About Neruda Arts

Neruda Arts is a nonprofit world music presenter dedicated to building bridges in the community through music, dance, drama, and literary and visual arts.

Since 2001 Neruda Arts has presented numerous Café Cabarets, Show the World concerts, festivals attracting thousands of residents and visitors, and workshops for emerging artists, youth, and various community groups.

This programming has allowed Neruda Arts to develop a strong presence in the arts, culture and community service sectors in the Waterloo Region.

Founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Isabel Cisterna, the organization’s mandate is to support emerging and new Canadian professional artists, and artists from visible minorities, whose work is under-represented in local cultural institutions.

Neruda Arts is dedicated to both the professional development of emerging artists and the artistic development of professional artists, while at the same time working to raise awareness and appreciation for diverse forms of cultural expression in the community.

Neruda Arts' programming brings people of all ages and backgrounds together to celebrate diversity and its positive values.

Meet the Team

Our team

Isabel Cisterna
Founder & Artistic Director

Actor. Award-winning playwright. Music Presenter. Cultural Programmer. Advocate of the Visual Arts. Community Activist. Project Manager. Mover. Shaker. Partner. Mother. Friend. Isabel Cisterna is all these things and more. Isabel immigrated to Canada over 20 years ago from Chile. In 2002, she established Neruda Arts and hasn't looked back. In 2019, Kultrún World Music Festival attracted 22,000 attendees. The roots of her passion and tenacity are run deep in The Waterloo Region.

Paddy Gillard-Bentley
Communications Director

Paddy Gillard-Bentley is a playwright, director and producer, based in Kitchener, Ontario. She is the founding Artistic Director of Flush Ink Productions (2016), and past president of the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP). Nearly 100 productions of her plays have been performed in England, Ireland, Australia, USA and Canada.  She has directed hundreds of plays and produced nearly fifty events for Flush Ink Productions. She has also worked with MT Space, KW Youth Theatre, Lost & Found Theatre and Neruda Arts.

Carol Rawlings
Digital Project Coordination

Retired after a varied career, and passionate about continuously learning new things, Carol now dedicates her self-taught skills in photography, design, data management, editing and website administration to her new favourite project: Neruda Arts.

Theo Ossinga
Creative Business Development

An entrepreneur and a career creative, Theo brings a background in Digital Agency work, Entrepreneurship, Event Management and Community Building to the Neruda Arts team.

Carlos Parada
Marketing & Promotion

Journalist, videographer, producer. Carlos has been involved with media and TV for over 2 decades. He moved to Canada from Chile in 2008, and he has been an active participant in community organizations and ethnic media in Ontario. He always has had a restlessness for social justice, anti-racism and inclusivity which has reflected in his work and creativity. Since 2016 Carlos has developed the mini-docs, reports, and videos for Neruda Arts. Now he is implementing various strategies in our Social Media.

Moira & Jess
Volunteer Coordination

Moira and Jess have been stalwarts of Neruda Arts volunteer management and coordination. They are always hands-on during the various festivals and ensure there is happy teamwork going on at all times.

Arturo Rojas
Cameraman & Videographer

Advertising Technologist with an undergraduate TV Production degree from Colombia. Arturo began his career working on films and commercials. Later, as Cameraman, editor and videographer, Arturo made videos about tourism, education, health, culture and more, for various private and governmental organizations.  Arturo came to Canada in 2004 and interned  with several companies including Rogers and TSN. He supports the creative area of video production at Neruda Arts.

Arlene Thomas
Hospitality Coordinator

Arlene is a puppeteer, actor, and arts administrator. She is the Artistic Director of Puppets & Shadows Theatre based in Kitchener, Ontario. She has a BFA in Acting from the University of Windsor and has been performing in museums, galleries, and occasionally, traditional theatre spaces all over Ontario and beyond since she graduated. She has been the Hospitality Coordinator for Kultrun World Music Festival since 2011 and has presented puppet shows and workshops as part of the festival. She and Puppets & Shadows Theatre were also featured as part of Neruda Arts' project "Still she persists" which celebrates Canadian women in the arts.

Jon Buysse
Technical Director

Jon likes acoustic, non-amplified music.  Why the heck is he a technical director, then?

Kathie Must
Advisor

Kathie is a  lover of all arts, but experienced largely through only four senses, quietly, with a loss of hearing from birth. She has many years of corporate,  social profit and volunteer experience, and what she enjoys the most is connecting people,  finding common ground, and building possibilities. The opportunity to immerse herself  in “feel the music” is magic.

Katryn de Salaberry
Advisor

Katryn is an avid lover of the French language. She currently facilitates French learning classes at Neruda Studios and uses an organic approach to pace the students according to their respective abilities. Katryn presents a safe & fun environment to effect learning in the realms of reading, speaking, listening and writing.

Melissa Ireland
Advisor

Melissa has had a vibrant and uplifting career as a senior communications and marketing coordinator across varied roles in the community. She especially made a lasting mark during over 17 years at Wilfrid Laurier University where she demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fostering Indigenous inclusion at the university, and building supports through the Indigenous Student Centres in Waterloo and Brantford.